Music Composers Unite!
That makes sense. What about the initial steps?
Let's say the client gives you a free hand at the beginning, scoring for a scene and you just can't seem to find the right theme for him as he himself is not sure what he wants and keeps changing his demands about the music?
I usually spend a lot of time encouraging them to carefully describe what they want. Then explain that anything they hear or want needs to be communicated before I take a shot at it. I ask them to sing the vibe, and give me reference ideas from other tracks. Most of the time, I've been lucky with the people who have hired me. I'll tend to "overwrite" and give them the option of cutting and pasting the stuff they do like over the parts they don't.
Rarely, I've had people who will not ever decide what they want, but only seem to gain a clearer understanding of what they don't want, by rejecting everything I send forward. When it goes to that point, I'll give them a yellow light and make them pay me what we agreed on before I do anything else. Usually around the third or rejection. Three strikes rule.
I'd rather lose the gig than get caught up in someone's psychotic control issues.
My best experience was a film gig, where the director gave me the script and the film, and then stayed completely out of the way. Hitchcock/Herrmann style. On the day of the session, he left completely ecstatic after we were done, and felt that the music completely and totally complemented his film. One take.
This is the way.